Frequently Asked Questions for PGY1 Residency: Pharmacy Practice

How many applications does the UCSF PGY1 Program receive every year? What is assessed after the application is received? How many candidates are asked to schedule an interview? What happens if I’m offered an interview and how will UCSF determine my ranking for the National Match?

For the most recent application cycle, UCSF received approximately 150 applications for its 12 PGY1 positions. Once an application is received, it is reviewed for completeness. In order to be reviewed, all PGY1 applications (including letters of recommendation) must be received by the application deadline. Candidates must be eligible for pharmacist licensure in the State of California to apply and must have a California license no later than October 30 in order to complete the program.

Each PGY1 applicant packet is reviewed and scored by a member of the Resident Selection Committee. Reviewers assess: communication skills, clinical experience (breadth, performance, scope of activity), personal/environmental factors (maturity, confidence, motivation, adaptability), work experience, aggregate letters of recommendation, leadership/initiative, teaching (interest and/or experience), research (interest and/or experience), extracurricular involvement and academic performance. The score that the candidate receives determines if an on-site interview will be granted. On-site interviews are offered to approximately 45 applicants each year.

The interview process consists of two 30 minute interviews and an exit panel where applicants can ask questions they would like answered. There is a 1:1 interview with the residency program director or the Director of the Department of Pharmaceutical Services and one panel interview with members of the Department of Clinical Pharmacy and/or members of the Medical Center’s Department of Pharmaceutical Services. Interviews are designed to assess overall fit with the UCSF PGY1 residency program based on personal career goals, ability to discuss information presented in the applicant’s curriculum vitae, ability to answer clinical and non-clinical questions, oral communication skills, and interpersonal skills. The applicant receives a tour of the facility with current PGY1 residents and has lunch with the residency program director, current residents, and additional faculty.

There are approximately 10 pharmacists who sit on the Resident Selection Committee. Each committee member presents a subset of applicants for group discussion. Applicants are ranked going into the selection meeting based on the scores from the PhorCAS packet review and interview process. A candidate can be moved up or down on the list based on the ensuing discussion on selection day and these final scores are then submitted to-National Matching Services.

Is there a preference for in-state or out-of-state pharmacy school graduates?

There is no preference for in-state or out-of-state graduates. Each applicant is treated equally and is reviewed using the same criteria.

What are the core rotations for the PGY1 program and which are elective? How are they assigned? What is the length of each rotation?

Each resident will complete 8 rotational learning experiences that are approximately 6 weeks in length and some longitudinal program components. A “Development Plan” for the year is developed based on an individual’s entering interests, rotation preferences, areas of prior experience, and areas of strength or weakness. Core experiences include at least one surgical rotation (orthopedic surgery/pain consult service, neurosurgery or general surgery), a general medicine or cardiology rotation, drug policy, and 6 weeks of ambulatory care. Each resident has four additional elective rotations that may include: an additional 6 weeks of ambulatory care, emergency medicine, investigational drug services, oncology, infectious disease, transplant (liver, kidney, heart/lung), critical care, pediatrics, cardiology, or psychiatry. There are multiple ambulatory care learning experiences available. During a 6 week ambulatory block, residents typically rotate through 2-3 different clinic experiences. During a 12 week ambulatory block, residents may rotate through up to 4 different clinic experiences. There is a broader scope of clinics available for residents who choose 12 versus 6 weeks of ambulatory care. Longitudinal program elements include pharmacy operations and research.

How frequently do I staff in pharmacy operations and carry the code pager?

PGY1 residents will gain experience in order verification, centralized and satellite pharmacy operations, sterile technique and IV additives checking and preparation. In the final third of the year, residents assume the Pharmacist In Charge (PIC) role during staffing. PGY1 residents carry the code blue pager, code stroke pager, and/or code sepsis pager at different times during the year and respond as part of a larger medical response team to emergencies in the hospital.

Frequency of PGY1 staffing: Typically one 8 hour shift per week (typically weekend staffing shifts after licensure is achieved). Shifts will include a mix of day shifts (7 AM-3:30 PM) and midday/evening shifts (230-11:00PM).

Frequency of PGY1 code coverage: Approximately 15 code shifts/year (Mon-Fri 730 AM-430 PM) plus weekend coverage when staffing on a weekend day.

What sort of teaching experience will I gain? Does your program offer a teaching certificate?

Teaching is a focus of the residency at UCSF, and residents receive a teaching certificate upon program completion if they complete the required elements of the program. The certificate recognizes the significant contributions and skills that are attained during the residency year. Residents receive training in teaching methodology, precepting and small group conference facilitation through a variety of educational seminars that are planned during the year. Teaching opportunities include mentoring pharmacy students on clinical rotations and providing in-service education to clinical staff and students. A core teaching program element includes providing at least one formal lecture to pharmacy students in a required or elective course, providing one 45 minute ACPE accredited lecture to pharmacy staff (in conjunction with one other PGY1 resident under the guidance of a faculty mentor) and serving as a conference facilitator in one of the Clinical Therapeutics courses. As a facilitator, residents meet with 12-16 students one afternoon each week for ten weeks to review patient cases that demonstrate clinical approaches to patient care. As a facilitator, residents are also involved with administration of oral exams, grading a portion of the midterm and final exams (during the conference facilitation block) and development of one or two patient cases for the small group conferences. Residents, who desire to do so, may also write exam questions specific to their lecture material. Residents also participate in health education to non-pharmacist health care providers during direct patient rotations and health education to the public through outreach in the community. There are many other opportunities both in the classroom setting (e.g. immunization certification, asthma inhaler skills lab, blood pressure and vital signs skills lab, aseptic technique skills lab) and in the community setting where residents can precept students and further develop their teaching skills. Residents receive feedback on their teaching and precepting from both students and faculty.

How are research projects ideas determined? What sort of research skills will I gain and where is my research presented?

The process of how research projects are determined has varied from year to year. In the last several years the Leadership of the Department of Pharmaceutical Services and the Leadership of the Department of Clinical Pharmacy developed a list of research projects for the residents to choose from (using a ranking process). The list focused on projects that demonstrated the value of clinical pharmacist services, and/or focused on quality improvement initiatives such as drug safety, optimal medication use, cost effective drug use, and efficient, safe and effective medication preparation, delivery and administration. Primary and secondary research preceptors are pre-assigned to the projects.

Residents gain skills in: adhering to a timeline for completion, creating an appropriate study design and methodology, completing data collection and analysis and summarizing research findings. Residents are enrolled in the Designing Clinical Research Interprofessional Curriculum at UCSF which guides them through modification of their research proposal and creation of a version suitable for submission to the Committee on Human Research Residents also receive support to work with the Clinical and Translational Science Institute (CTSI) in order to complete their statistical analysis.

All projects are of a scope suitable for publication. Projects are presented as posters at the UCSF Department of Clinical Pharmacy Spring Research Poster Session. They are also presented as posters at the University Hospital Consortium residency session that precedes the ASHP Midyear Clinical Meeting. The final presentation occurs in spring and is a platform presentation at the Western States Research Conference in California.

What sort of guidance/mentorship will I receive?

Each resident is matched with one of our outgoing residents, who will be able to answer any immediate questions before the program starts. Residents are assigned a faculty mentor, who serves as an additional go-to person for questions and support, outside of the residency program director. While on service, residents are mentored by our clinical pharmacists and faculty. Service preceptors orient the resident to their service and discuss the resident’s expectations. Preceptors meet regularly with the resident to discuss patient cases, therapeutic issues and clinical pearls. Preceptors also provide guidance on the resident’s approach to student precepting.

Once I match, how do I go about finding housing in the San Francisco Bay Area? How much does it cost for a studio or one bedroom apartment? Do I need to have a car for transportation?

UCSF has a housing office. You can check availability online at It is recommended that you live close to UCSF for convenience.

The SF Chronicle at also has listings of local housing, as well as Craigslist at

The cost of an apartment is dependent on its size, location and amenities. You can get a better idea of cost while looking at the above websites.

Since parking around the University is extremely difficult, it is suggested that you bring a car only if your housing unit supplies a parking space or if street parking is available in your living area. Local transportation by MUNI/BART is extremely good and taxis are also reasonably priced.

How much do I get paid as a PGY1 or PGY2 resident? Do I receive any other health benefits?

PGY1 residents are paid approximately 50K per year, while PGY2 residents are paid approximately 55K per year. All residents also receive health, dental, and vision benefits.

How do I apply to the program?

UCSF participates in the CSHP Seminar and ASHP Midyear residency showcases. The showcases are also a good time to ask faculty and residents questions about the program. You can apply to the PGY1 program using PhORCAS.

Where do residents go after completing a UCSF PGY1 residency?

Over the past 5 years, most graduates of the PGY1 program have either pursued additional training (PGY2s, fellowships) or were hired into clinical pharmacist positions at teaching or non-teaching hospitals. Smaller subsets of graduates have found careers in academia or industry. Graduates who pursue academic appointments often do so after completing a PGY2 program.

What PGY2 specialty programs are available at UCSF? Which PGY2 programs are ASHP accredited?

We offer the following PGY2 specialty programs at UCSF: Critical Care, Infectious Disease, Pediatrics, Medication-Use Safety, Informatics, Solid Organ Transplant and Oncology. Of these programs, three are ASHP-accredited (Pediatrics, Oncology, and Critical Care), one is ASHP candidate status (Infectious Disease), two are ASHP pre-candidate status (Solid Organ Transplant, Medication-Use Safety) and one is non-accredited (Informatics).